Auckland, January 27, 2021
Airlines are calling for an extension of support packages from government following the Prime Minister’s forecast of keeping the border closed until the latter part of 2021.
Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNS) Executive Director Justin Tighe-Umbers warned that New Zealand is at a severe risk of losing what few international air links it has left.
“We have gone from 44 direct air connections to about a dozen. International air travel is down by 95%. This is now likely to remain for the rest of the year, or at least until a Tasman Safe Zone is up and running. Our remaining air links simply cannot survive unsupported. The government must act to preserve them,” he said.
Another lifeline support
Mr Tighe-Umbers said that the government made a good start in April last year by providing the aviation sector a $600 million lifeline and that is time for a similar-sized support package set up fast.
“Costs were being covered for border agencies and air navigation services. That has now all been stopped. Air cargo support through the International Air Freight Capacity Scheme (IAFC), which is the only thing keeping many airlines flying here, is due to finish at the end of March. We are calling for an extension of the cargo support scheme and the Essential Travel Connectivity Fund until the border can re-open to the rest of the world,” he said.
Mr Tighe-Umbers said that airlinks have been massive generators of income for New Zealand through exports and imports and travel. Pre-Covid 19 a typical daily long-haul flight was worth half a billion dollars.
Extending support to airlines to help the international tourism sector is going to be key to a fast restart once New Zealand has a vaccinated population.
“Let us not make the mistake of throwing away our $17 billion export earner, tourism, just because we did not make another investment in retaining air connectivity,” he said.
The Board of Airlines Representatives of New Zealand Inc. is the respected and trusted voice of the airline industry in New Zealand. We work closely with the Government, regulators, businesses, and local communities to provide cost savings and service improvements for our member airlines; and to create an environment that fosters continued, sustainable growth for them in NZ. For more information, please visit www.barnz.org.nz
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